Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Terms for Classical Intercolumniation and Ground Plans, from Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink on paper
Support: 88 × 115 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CVIII 38

Catalogue entry

Turner’s notes run down the left-hand side of the page:
Pycnostyle 1 or 1 ½ diam | Systylos 2 2 ½ | Diastyle 3 | Areostyle 4 5 6 | Anta front of the Pilasters | Prostylos 2 columns against the | Pilasters at the corners | Amphiprostylos | Peripteros | Pseudodipteros | Dipteros | <Hypæt> Hypæthos: [‘r’ inserted above between ‘h’ and ‘o’, i.e. ‘Hypæthros’] uncoverd to the | Air
Maurice Davies has identified these terms as coming from the 1598 English edition of Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo’s Tracte Containing the Artes of Curious Paintinge Carvinge & Buildinge (see the sketchbook Introduction).1 They are from chapter XXIX, ‘Of the Intercolumneations [sic] of the Columnes in Respect of Themselves, and of their Dimensions, and Aspectes’ of ‘The First Booke: Of the Naturall and Artificiall Proportions of Things’, pages 104 (to ‘4 5 6’), 106 (to ‘Peripteros’), and 107. Lomazzo gives the terms as a series of headings, each with a short paragraph of explanation from which Turner has noted the fundamental points.
Intercolumniation is the spacing between classical columns expressed as units of their diameters, as set out by the Roman architectural writer Vitruvius; the list continues with the names of ground plans of Greek temples in terms of the arrangement of their columns.2 Lastly, a hypaethros is a type of opening in a temple roof. A number of Turner’s perspective lecture diagrams (Tate; Turner Bequest CXCV) show plans and elevations of classical architecture.

Matthew Imms
June 2008

Davies 1994, p.288; Lomazzo also checked directly.
See ‘Glossary’ in John Summerson, The Classical Language of Architecture, revised ed., London 1980, pp.122–34.

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